American Roman Catholic bishops announced on Friday the passing vote to draft a "teaching document" that would condemn catholic politicians such as President Biden that receive communion despite voicing support for abortion rights.
At a press conference on Friday, a reporter asked Biden "Do you have a comment about what the Roman Catholic Bishops have done? Are you concerned about the rift within the Catholic Church and are you concerned about this action?"
Biden asked for clarification, "Say again?"
"The Catholic Bishops are moving on this resolution that would prevent you and others who've supported abortion from receiving communion. Are you concerned about the rift in the Catholic Church and how do you feel personally about that?" The reporter asked.
"It's a private matter, and I don't think that's going to happen," Biden said, and thanked reporters as he left the podium.
While Biden has said that he personally opposes abortion, he has also said that he doesn’t think he should impose that position on Americans who feel otherwise. Several of his acts as President have been lauded by abortion-rights advocates. The Catholic Church is entirely opposed to abortion.
The result of the bishop's vote, which took place privately on Thursday after three hours of debate, were announced on Friday towards the end of a virtual three-day meeting of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, according to the New York Post.
The vote overwhelmingly passed, with 168 in favor and 55 opposed.
The USCCB's doctrine committee will now draft a statement on the "meaning of Communion in the life of the church" that will be submitted for consideration at a future meeting, potentially occurring in November.
A section within the document will specifically reprimand catholic politicians and public figures that disobey church teachings on abortion and other "core doctrine issues."
During Thursday's debate, Bishop Donald Hying of Madison, Wisconsin stated that many he spoke with were "confused by a Catholic president who advances 'the most radical pro-abortion agenda in history,'" adding that action from the bishops' conference was necessary.
"They're looking for direction," said Hying.
Other bishops, like Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, warned that "the USCCB would suffer 'destructive consequences' from a document targeting Catholic politicians."
"It would be impossible to prevent the weaponization of the Eucharist," McElroy said.
The chairman of the USCCB doctrine committee, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, said that no final decisions have been made on the contents of the document. Bishops who are not on the committee, according to Rhoades, will have chances to offer input, and the final draft will be subject to amendments before it is put up to a vote.
No individuals, like Biden, will be addressed by name in the document, and the document would be merely guidelines rather than a mandatory policy, according to Rhoades.
The final decision on receiving Communion would be left up to individual bishops and archbishops. Archbishop Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, DC, has said that Biden would be welcomed to receive the eucharistic sacrament in the archdiocese.
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